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Archive for June, 2009

Business As Usual May Mean No More Southern Baptists.

June 24, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Religion

southernbaptistconventionThe Southern Baptist convention made no apologies for breaking its 127-year relationship with the Fort Worth Baptist church because the relationship was breached due to the Fort Worth church’s lenient stance on homosexuality.

Apparently, allowing homosexuals to be members of the church is a no-go for the Southern Baptist Convention.  Although seminary president, Danny Akin, will readily admit (and in fact has said), “Business as usual is not working” for the Southern Baptists, it looks like it is business as usual for this elitist organization of right-wing conservatives.

Now, I’ve always thought Baptists were the most hypocritical of all religious groups.  Central to this belief is their ability to sin one day and repent the next so that they can continue sinning later and repent again.  It’s a vicious circle, but not uncommon from my experience with Southern Baptists – which is a very vast experience crossing not only personal, but also professional, bounds.

But they’ll continue with business as usual and fight such important battles as whether or not to boycott Walt Disney, whether women should be allowed to preach the gospel, whether wives should “submit graciously” to their husbands, whether they should screen out the missionaries who speak in “tongues” and other issues central to the downfall of American society, like gays.

So, here’s to you Southern Baptist Convention for continuing business as usual – may it lead to the ultimate downfall of your organization as you exclude yourselves out of business.

See:  Southern Baptists eject Fort Worth church over gay issues – On Deadline – USATODAY.com.

Will the Mormon Church Reconcile with Gays and Lesbians?

June 23, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay, Uncategorized

mormonrainbowHow many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does it take to make a movement?  Apparently, the answer is 482, which at the time of this post is the number of signors to “A Plea for Reconciliation” from ldsapology.org.  The group consists of LDS members, former members and others who believe in the equal value of every soul regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or worldly condition.  The Petition for Reconciliation begins:

We the undersigned, in the spirit of love and peace, earnestly seek to create a climate for reconciliation between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and gays and lesbians who have been affected by the policies, practices and politics of the Church. We recognize that issues surrounding sexuality and gender orientation are complex; that understanding of these matters has evolved, especially over the past several decades, and are continuing to evolve as scientists, therapists, theologians and others continue to explore and ponder their meaning and significance; We believe that people of good will may have differing views about homosexuality, while maintaining amicable relationships.  [via ldsapology.org Petition to the Mormon Church, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for reconciliation with Gay and Lesbians.]

Some would argue that it just gets better from there. But is the gay community ready to accept an apology from the LDS Church?  I’d like to think so.  After all, without forgiveness on the part of both groups, there can be no progress.

Why Pat Roberston Can Have Heaven.

June 22, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Religion

heavenWhen I was young we would play “the telephone game.”  Essentially, a large group of people would get together and one person would start with a phrase like, “The portal opened up into a new dimension.”  That would be whispered to the next person, who would whisper it to the next and so on and so forth until it gets to the last person.  The last person would then say the phrase out loud and it would almost inevitably lead to a huge roar of laughter.  What was, “The portal opened up into a new dimension,” would now be, “The turtle suffered from severe dementia.”

The telephone game wasn’t intended to be one where you intentionally changed what was said, it was something that happened.  It happened because someone would mishear a word or part of the phrase and assume what it was.  It happened because no matter how hard we try to tell a story exactly as it happened, we alter it based upon our own perceptions.

To me, much of the Bible is like the telephone game.  Obviously, if Adam and Eve were indeed the only humans on Earth, there were no scribes to write down events as they happened.  Therefore, one would assume that Adam and/or Eve relayed the stories to their sons (either before or after the incestuous relationships resulted in the populating of Earth).  In turn, their sons would relay the stories to their children, and so it goes from generation to generation until someone decides to write the story down.  Therefore, it’s very possible that Adam was actual Allen and Eve was actually Eva.

Thus, when I hear someone like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell or John Hagee or any other evangelical minister using the word “truth” to describe the words in the Bible, it strikes a very unnerving chord on my internal piano – something you may hear just before someone is attacked in a horror movie.  I often think of Pat Robertson and his lot as Don Quixotes in that their quest is driven by their inability to distinguish fact from fiction, or more particularly, belief from truth.

For an example that relates to this site and myself, many evangelicals take the position that God’s truth is that “man shall not lie with another man as he does a woman.”   But is that true?  Is it true that God said this?  The Bible says this, but did God speak those words to a crowded gymnasium?  Did something get lost in the repetition, translations — in the telephone game?

In fact, Cardinal Bellarmine once taught God’s truth and said:

To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.

Another example of Christian “truth” was far more horrific.  In fact, Christian ministers used to preach that black people didn’t have souls and were cursed, hence the color of their skin.  One minister, R. Furman (a Baptist) had this to say:

The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.

The minister is right, there is slavery in the Bible, but does that mean it is God’s truth that we should have slaves?

But sometimes, even the ministers disagree as to what God’s truth is:

God gave the savior to the German people.  We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he [Hitler] was sent to us by God to save Germany. — Hermann Goering

Many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many were homosexuals — the two things seem to go together. — Pat Robertson

The point here is that those people that claim God’s truth don’t really know it to be truth anymore than I know what is true when it comes to God.  I know what I believe; I believe there is no God.  I believe that if there is a God and those people like Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler, Pat Robertson, R. Furman, Jerry Falwell and all the other Don Quixotes are going to Heaven – I don’t want to go.  It’s bad enough I have to spend life on earth with that sort of ignorance. The last thing I want to do is spend eternity with it.

2010 Census will Include Married, Same-Sex Couples in Spite of DOMA.

June 22, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

justiceThe news is out with regard to the 2010 census and, in spite of previous arguments that the Defense of Marriage Act will prevent the Census Bureau from counting married same-sex couples, it appears the census will count all Americans – as they see themselves.  According to Steve Jost, a spokesman for the Census Bureau:

They [same-sex couples] will be counted, and they ought to report the way they see themselves.

White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs had this to say:

The president and the administration are committed to a fair and accurate count of all Americans.  We’re in the midst of determining the best way to ensure that gay and lesbian couples are accurately counted.

via Census 2010 To Include Married Gay Couples | On Top Magazine :: Gay & Lesbian News, Entertainment, Commentary & Travel.

This victory for LGBT activists on the federal level comes just shortly after the State Department, in response to lawsuits such as Gill, et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, et al., announced they would begin recognizing surname’s of same-sex married couples on passports (previously arguing that DOMA prevented that recognition).

These sorts of decisions clearly indicate what LGBT advocates (and at times even the current Administration) have been trying to illustrate: The unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act runs far deeper than just states’ rights in marriage recognition.

Diane Rheem Hosts ‘Obama Administration and Gay Rights’

June 19, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Yesterday, Diane Rheem’s show discussed the Obama Administration and gay rights.  If you missed the show, I highly recommend you take a moment to listen to it when you have an opportunity.  Diane’s guests included Human Rights Campaign President, Joe Solmones, Director of the Office of Personnel Management, John Berry, and the Senior Pastor of the Hope Christian Church in Beltsvelle, MD, Harry Jackson.

The show began with John Berry claiming that we must recognize the memorandum outlining benefits available to domestic partners of federal civil service employees as “one step” in the process for equality.  It’s become obvious that the administration is attempting to mitigate the damages caused to the Democratic party by the DOMA memo.

In response to gay rights advocates’ criticisms of Obama’s breach of promises, Berry stated:

As in anything Diane, you have to walk before you run, this is a very logical first step under that ‘getting our house in order.’  But the president has also been clear on the rest of the agenda. The president is urging passage of the Hate Crimes Legislation and that will hopefully happen within the next couple of weeks.

Berry reiterates that President Obama supports the Employer Non-Discrimination Act, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.  He states that those items require the congress in order for the President to act.  He further advised that the President will be actively supporting these legislative measures, but that they don’t have enough votes to support the legislation as of yet.

But Berry’s Defense of the administration wasn’t the highlight of the show.  The show also featured a debate between Joe Solmones, a civil rights advocate, and Harry Jackson, an anti-equality minister.  They both expressed their reaction to the President’s memorandum and their opinions of the reaction by the LGBT community to the DOMA memorandum.

Mr. Jackson asserts that the LGBT community’s claims that the President’s action [assigning some federal benefits to civil service employees’ domestic partners] as not enough “smacks” of bullying on the playground:

Today we want a quarter, tomorrow we want two dollars.

No, Mr. Jackson, we aren’t the bullies here, we are defending ourselves from being bullied – finally.  There is an enormous distinction between the two.

When asked whether he saw a relationship between what African Americans (a group Mr. Jackson belongs to) went through to what LGBT are going through, he says he sees some similarities but that, “basically, the civil rights movement has been hijacked by the gay community.  It is not comparable at all.”  He further claimed that African Americans, unlike gay people, have immutable, unchangeable characteristics.  Apparently, Mr. Jackson didn’t receive the memo that “civil rights” are not just for “African Americans” but for ALL citizens of the country.  Mr. Jackson has heretofore been leading an anti-marriage movement under the guise of protecting marriage.

He further claims, “Anybody’s pain is important,” however, he then states that there is no comparison between African Americans that were lynched for their color and LGBT people who have been murdered for their sexual orientation.

Mr. Walker claims that his beliefs about homosexuality do not make him a bigot and that we are demonizing people like him with the word bigot:

bigot

Well, here’s your shoe Mr. Walker.  Wear it.

Bruno: Humor or Homophobia?

June 19, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Bruno - Homophobia or HumorFoxNews, amongst others, are reporting that the new movie from Sacha Baron Cohen, Bruno, has concerned gay rights activists as the movie doesn’t “spoof” homosexuals, it “bashes” them.  However, the character of Bruno has been around for some time, spoofing [or bashing] homosexuals with little more than a ripple from the gay community at large.

A few nights ago, honey Christopher and I were sitting on the couch enjoying some evening television and saw the trailer for the first time. We both laughed and Christopher started pulling up clips of “Bruno” from previous Cohen shows.  We watched several clips, all of which made us “LOL.”  Here’s the trailer for your amusement:

“Bruno” exposes many of the stereotypes for being ridiculous; however, if the “gay community” should be infuriated about anything, it’s the responses of those Bruno interviews, such as, “You wanna be professional, be professional, don’t be such a f-ing fag.”  Take a look at the video when Bruno goes to the “gayest part of America, Alabama!”:

So, from this “gay rights activist” to you – Not all of us lack a sense of humor.  I find it HILARIOUS!

Closet Talk: Marlin’s Story. From Christ to Queer

June 18, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkMarlin used to be a Church of Christ pulpit minister.  Now, he’s an out and proud gay man.  He left the pulpit, in effect, to “come out” of the closet he had been hiding in for 42 years.  Marlin and I discussed the coming out process, he’s preaching about homosexuality, the effect of his coming out on his faith, conversion therapy/left handedness and religious arguments against homosexuality.

The full conversation is available below:

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: I Support Gay Rights But I’m Not Gay.

June 17, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationHi Straight People. Are you straight? Then this blog is for you. I’m straight too. So how did I end up here, on a gay man’s blog? Ah, the answer to that is long. The better question is how did you end up here?

Have you been catching the news now and then? Let’s be honest. Most straight people don’t really participate in the gay rights movement nor do they really keep track. Like most everyone, we can barely get through the day, what with worrying about kids, jobs, daycare, college, bosses, the economy, our bills, our health. It just goes on doesn’t it?

Chances are you haven’t really spent much time examining your feelings about gay people. If you don’t know someone who is gay, why would you? Except for Ellen, who do you know that is gay?

In the debate on equal rights for gays, both sides have been vocal. Conservatives, especially religious conservatives, have poured a lot of money into getting out their message that our families will somehow be endangered by treating gay people as if they were “normal.”

I’ve spent my whole life being around mostly straight people. So I know that many straight people don’t know anyone who is gay. I know that they would not know what to say to a gay person. I know they have problems seeing past being gay. Their first thought is about sex. We have trouble picturing being attracted to the same gender, as it isn’t what we feel. When we (us straight folks) are attracted to someone, it can come with feelings that range from infatuation, falling in love, combined with sexual attraction, or just plain old lust to the point where we engage in one night stands or even hire prostitutes. Anyone over the age of 25 has figured out that love and sex aren’t necessarily the same thing.

But back to gay people. POP! That image of what do they do in the bedroom comes into our heads. Many of us have been taught by our religions, our families, and our society that homosexuality is against God’s law, they are all promiscuous, worse they are pedophiles. The men are effeminate and weak; the women are masculine and homely. The men all become flamboyant hair dressers or fashion designers, the women become….. hmm, I don’t know what.

There’s  another group of straight people. You work with someone, they go to your church, or they are on your soccer team. You become friends, you enjoy their company and one day you ask that age old innocent question. If it’s a male, you ask “Do you have a girlfriend?” and vice versa for a woman. If that person has trust in you, this could be the moment they have chosen to come out to you.

Then there’s the last but not least group of straight people. It’s your child, your sibling or even a parent.

Suddenly, this person is a stranger. Everything you know about them comes into question. If it is your child, you may grieve and think about all the things that you will miss out on. Grandchildren. A daughter-in-law to give you the daughter you never had. You’ll be afraid to tell anyone. If this is a friend, depending on your pre-existing feelings about gay people, your reaction can range from so what, to confusion, to awkwardness, to what do I do now, to feelings of repulsion or even threatened. If you are the same gender, you might think this person will hit on you. Somehow, there is this notion that gay people are sexually attracted to everyone they meet that is the same gender. Because when a person is gay, thinking about sex is the only thing that goes on in their brain, right? Wrong.  Just like you and me, they won’t be attracted to everyone. They know it’s a lost cause to think about being involved with someone who is straight. Not to burst your bubble, but I’m guessing they aren’t interested in you in “that way”.

All straight people go through a journey of realizations and expanding their comfort level when getting to know someone who is gay. I know I did. It can be difficult to resist asking certain questions, wondering about things that you have no firsthand knowledge of. Unless you are very close friends, I don’t recommend prying. Stick to the same subjects that you would with your straight friends. Show the person respect and acknowledge if you feel awkward. “I’ve never met anyone who is gay but I like you. So, if I say or do something offensive or that is too personal, I hope you will let me know.” Avoid stereotypes. After meeting probably fifty people who are gay, I can tell that they have only one thing in common. Being gay.

I was very lucky. My best friend in high school was a gay man. When he came out several years later, we were such good friends that I was very comfortable asking questions. (Everyone who hears this story assumes that it is a story of unrequited love. Nope. We really were just friends. And when my husband to be came along, the three of us were good friends.) I’m grateful not only for his friendship but also the enlightenment about gay people. I peeled back the layers of assumptions about gay people thanks to him. Back in the 70s, no one thought about gay marriage. I think even gay people didn’t think about it. They were too worried about losing their jobs and families.

I went from thinking that gay people should not have children, and I would say it was because their children would be bullied. But the truth is, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea. Then, when I met gay parents, I realized that gay people could be just as good at parenting as straight people.

I went from thinking that “it’s better just to be quiet about being gay” and I would say it was because it was so easy to be a target for bullying, hate and violence but really I don’t like conflict and I knew I could not be that brave if I were gay. Then as I met more people who were gay,  I learned  that the more gay people who came out, the better it was for everyone, gay or straight.

I went from thinking, well having gay friends is fine but I won’t tell my children they are gay. I said it was because children are too young to understand and why did they need to know, but really it was because I had no clue how to explain it. Sex was still front and center. Not love. Then along came a coworker that became a good friend and I decided to explain to my four year old son at the time that she loved a girl, not a boy and that was ok. He didn’t flinch. To this day, at the age of twenty, he knows her and her partner, and loves them both.

I can remember a time when I would say “I believe that gay people should be treated like everyone else but I’m not gay.”  I wanted people to know that I wasn’t gay. I wore “I’m not gay” like a badge when I spoke up for gay rights. Why?  I couldn’t bear the thought of experiencing the kind of marginalization, stereotyping, hate or fear that gay people faced. As time moved on, that fell away.  It happened so gradually that I don’t really know when it went away. This past year I joined the LGBT group at our church. We meet monthly for a potluck and a discussion. My husband doesn’t go with me. It wasn’t until the last meeting before our summer break that I realized many people assumed that I was a lesbian. Unless I brought up my husband for a reason that was relevant to the conversation, it never occurred to me to explain. So there I was, in the reverse situation that most gay people face. Our new minister and his partner came to the last potluck. I am sure that they think I am a lesbian but that didn’t occur to me until I got home. And until it comes up naturally in conversation, I’m just going to leave it that way.  We straight people assume everyone is straight. And we’re right probably 90% of the time.

And in just this last year, I went from “I don’t care what it’s called, just give same sex couples all the rights of marriage” to realizing that a separate system creates separate classes of people. Civil unions and domestic partnerships sound like corporations, not a committed loving relationship. Not to mention that if records are public, it becomes very easy to identify gay couples and possibly make them the target of hate crimes. And then there’s the crazy bureaucratic nightmare of how to write something as boring as a tax form.

I am a person who has many friends, but few very close friends. I’m an introvert. When I assessed the most important friendships in my life, there were eight. Four of those were gay, lesbian or transgender. They became my friends not because of their sexual orientation but for the individuals that they are. Two were Catholic, one was Lutheran, and one was an atheist. Two were scientists, one an artist, one a hotel clerk. One was a Republican, three were Democrats. Three are dog people, one is a cat person. All are smart, compassionate, witty, hard working and unique.

It can take time to become familiar with things that we know nothing about. If you realize that LGBT people are human, just like you, you’ll find yourself leaving judgment and negativity behind. People don’t choose to be straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender. Too much scientific research has proven that. Who we are comes naturally to all of us. No one would choose a life where they could be hated or killed, where they don’t have civil rights.

As humans, don’t we all deserve the same rights? Straight couples receive approximately 1138 Federal rights when they are married. LGBT people in domestic partnerships or civil unions receive no Federal rights and sometimes only a fraction of the states’ rights. It’s time for full equality for all Americans.

If you could not marry the person that you love, how would you feel? Yea, I thought so. So don’t make anyone else feel that way.  It’s un-American.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlGeekgirl is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a
lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: the Obama Administration and I.

June 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

ObamaDo you remember the pre-President Obama?  He would stand before a crowd of say, 20 people at a community center talking about the American Dream and living it.  At that time, and currently, he had a “wife” that he loved, someone he could turn to while speaking and say, “Thank you to my beautiful ‘wife’ for helping me live this dream.”

Well Mr. President, I have a dream too. I dream that someday I can stand before a crowd of people and say, “Thank you to my beautiful ‘husband’ for helping me live this dream.”  I like the way that word sounds.  It’s not too formal, like “significant other” or too whimpy like “partner” – both of which belittle what it is I have with my husband.

I’m sure President Obama has experienced horrible levels of discrimination in his life.  He has fought hard and he has triumphed, setting a new era for American Politics.  But through it all did anyone ever say, “Now, do it all again but were taking away your ‘wife?'”

That is what the Defense of Marriage Act and state bans on same-sex marriage are doing, plan and simply.  They are taking away our ability to live the American Dream the same way that Mr. Obama has lived it.

Then I think back to Hillary v. Obama and how the “gays” were torn and our thoughts flowed freely:

Hillary says she supports us, but she helped draft DOMA, her ‘husband” put it into law, her ‘husband’ enacted DADT!  We can’t trust her.  But this guy, this guy, Obama, he’s been there too.  He climbed out of the ‘Club of Disaffection!’

But to climb out, he used our rights as his ladder.  I now find myself trying to find humor in how quickly we cast Hillary out for fear of her doing exactly what it is Obama is doing.  As I said once before: Hillary would be like having Jesus in the White House – only the good Jesus, not the bad one “they” keep lying to you about.

But what can we do about it?  Do we go flocking back to Hillary begging she forgive us for tossing her aside as Obama has tossed us aside?  Do we go begging the Log Cabin Republicans to forgive us and help convince their party that now, as they need redefining, is the time to become strong allies with the gay community and reclaim the White House in 2012?  Or do we continue to hold on to what it was Obama promised us and “be patient” even as he pulls the very same, hateful and deceptive language from a hat that those that would have us criminalized do, “pedophiles?”

Tonight, on Rachael Maddow, Howard Dean more than implied that we have to keep pushing for our rights as Martin Luther King continued to push for Obama’s rights.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now — when? — Rabbi Hillel

What Do Hate Crimes and Travel Promotion Have in Common?

June 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

HateCrimesTravelMaybe it’s just me, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what hate crimes and the promotion of tourism into the United States have to do with each other.  However, as is being reported via an “unnamed source” by way of the Washington Blade, Americablog and Pam’s House Blend, The United States Senate has, apparently, deemed adding the current Hate Crimes Bill (which passed the House as H.R. 1913) as an Amendment to S. 1023, also known as the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, proper.

The purpose of S. 1023 is “to establish a non-profit corporation to communicate United States entry policies and otherwise promote leisure, business, and scholarly travel to the United States.”

*THUD NOISE*

But this is, apparently, the bill which will get sexual orientation and gender identity included into existing federal hate crimes legislation – have gays, will travel.

As a very vocal advocate of Hate Crimes Legislation, I’ll be thrilled should the bill pass in any form; however, as Pam Spaulding wrote at Pam’s House Blend:

Sorry, folks, we’ll be elated to see the federal hate crimes bill succeed (and for the fundies to take a temporary bath), but there’s no way to mitigate the hate brief’s [Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss] damage to LGBT rights.

Well Pam, I think our knight in a shinning civil rights façade can mitigate the damages caused by the hate brief by: (1) withdrawing the Motion to Dismiss (which does not require legislative authority); (2) repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell [DADT] or at least halting investigations and dismissals as a result of DADT (again without legislative authority); and (3) at minimal, proposing legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA].  Then maybe (just maybe) I’ll hammer the dents out of my Obama button, pull my Advocate Magazine with him on the cover out of the trash and say, “Damn, I was wrong, this man actually does have a little integrity.”  Now, if we add an Employer Non-Discrimination Act to that mix, I may just have to eat crow and give my first scientifically developed, genetically enhanced, super-brain child to Obama in retribution.